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Samsung posts first-ever quarterly loss

22bn won gone down memory drain

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There's more gloomy financial news from the tech sector today with Samsung reporting its first-ever quarterly loss.

The coffers of world's largest maker of memory chips sprang a leak in its fourth quarter under pressure of collapsing prices in memory and LCD displays as well as slowing demand from the global recession.

Samsung's Q4 loss comes a day after Sony warned of its first operating loss in 14 years, blaming the same conditions.

Samsung's fourth quarter net loss was 22.2bn won ($16m, £12m) compared to a 2.21 trillion won profit a year ago. Excluding a 660bn won tax credit, the loss was 937.1bn ($679m, £493m).

"The global economic slowdown had an adverse effect on consumer purchases of electronics goods in the fourth quarter, traditionally a strong period for electronic companies," the company stated.

Fourth quarter sales were 18.45 trillion won ($13.6bn, £9.7bn), up 5.5 per cent from the same period last year.

Almost 60 per cent of Samsung's total operating loss in Q4 was from its memory chip operations. The semiconductor biz was in the red by 56bn won, and a 14 per cent loss margin. Samsung is the second largest chipmaker after Intel.

The company said the memory market oversupply situation would likely continue through the first half of 2009.

Samsung's LCD display operations lost 35bn won on an 8 per cent loss margin. Samsung blames the downturn on oversupply and weak demand.

On the positive side, the company said its handset market sold 22 per cent more mobile phones in 2008 than the previous year, but didn't disclose its quarterly unit sales for Q4. ®

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